Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday was in downtown San Jose, joined by other state leaders, to sign a bill that paves the way for more affordable housing, creating more jobs and boosting California's economic recovery.
Introduced by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Newsom appeared with Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), the author of Senate Bill 7, which changes zoning to allow for more dense housing and expedites the state's environmental review process.
"This bill is a path and investment in the state of California," Newsom said Thursday. "This bill is about our comeback."
The bill passed the state Senate in March and the Assembly on May 10.
"We were ready to sign this about 20 minutes after I got it, but it didn't feel right to bury it on a Friday," Newsom said. "We need to celebrate this bill."
The signing event took place at the site of Google's planned Downtown West development near Diridon Station in downtown San Jose. The project includes more than 4,000 homes, about a quarter of which will be rent restricted or affordable units.
Construction on the project could start as early as 2023 and is expected to take at least 10 years to complete.
Critics have blasted the project, saying it will price middle-class families out of the neighborhood. Project supporters say the plan will create thousands of construction jobs, bring in more business to San Jose, and create more affordable housing.
"We have a project today that will confront our affordable housing crisis with the production of more than 4,000 high density homes, at least 25% of which will be rent restricted and affordable," Liccardo said.
Data shows California needs 3.5 million housing units for all income levels over the next four years.
State Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a former San Jose city councilman, and state Sen. Dave Cortese, a former Santa Clara County supervisor, also spoke during the event. Cortese co-authored SB 7.
Newsom was in the Bay Area last week to unveil a $100 billion comprehensive economic recovery plan, dubbed the California Comeback Plan.
He said then the state was operating with a $75.7 billion budget surplus.